Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister of Economy and Energy; Quelle: BMWi/Maurice Weiss

Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister of Economy and Energy

© BMWi/Maurice Weiss

Following their second reading in the Bundesrat today, the draft bills for the construction of energy grids and for the revision of the Combined Heat and Power Act have now been passed.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel said: "The decisions taken by the Bundesrat today open up the way for expanding the electricity grid in away that is accepted by the general public. If Germany's energy transition is to become a model for success around the world, we urgently need to make progress on expanding the power grid. The Länder now also need to use the improved regulatory environment to speed up licensing processes, some of which have become stagnated. On top of this, the revision of the the Combined Heat and Power Act will provide a strong stimulus for efficient technologies, which are of vital importance. We are increasing funding quite considerably and are shifting it from coal to gas. In doing so, we are making an important contribution towards reaching our national climate targets."

The Act Amending the Legislation Governing the Construction of Energy Grids implements the 'Principles for a successful implementation of the energy transition' of 1 July 2015 and is intended to raise acceptance among the general public for the required expansion of the power grid. It stipulates that priority will be given to building the new electricity highways (known as high-voltage direct current transmission lines) underground rather than in the form of overhead powerlines. The new law also raises the number of pilot projects for laying certain sections of three-phase AC cables underground so that experience can be gained more quickly. It also defines binding start and end points for the transmission lines included in the the Federal Requirements Plan, bringing them into line with the 2024 Grid Development Act, which has now been confirmed by the Federal Network Agency.

The revision of the Combined Heat and Power Act ensures that this highly efficient and climate-friendly technology will continue to play an important role in making the energy transition in Germany a success. The volume of funding allocated to this technology will be doubled - rising from €750 million to €1.5 billion per year - and will be used for the changeover to combined heat and power based on gas (from coal). Under the new legislation, the expansion targets for combined heat and power will be adjusted to bring them into line with the needs of the energy transition and to ensure that they are ambitious, but at the same time realistic.

Both pieces of legislation are to now enter into force swiftly. However, the Cogeneration Act first needs to be cleared by the European Commission, with approval set to come through at the start of 2016.

To find out more about current German energy policy, please consult our fortnightly Newsletter "Energiewende direkt".